Doing Good to Others

We reef the sails, as we see the clouds gathering. While we are still sailing in the sun, the darkness packs at the horizon. That is how it goes in the Caribbean this time of the year: sunshine one moment, rain the next. Under the threatening clouds hurrying towards us, we see the white foam on the waves. The wind will pick up soon. We are sailing to Petit St Vincent in the Grenadines. Everyone calls it “PSV”, for short. An island barely one mile in diameter, covered with palm trees and bush. It is not far anymore, maybe another half an hour of sailing. But we don’t not make it in time. The rain catches up with us, and before we know it, we are engulfed in a dense curtain of water gushing down. I studied the pilot book this morning, and know how the anchorage looks like, by heart. The GPS guides me towards the entrance between the coral heads and the beach.

As we steer into the anchorage, we put the kids below deck, drop the sails, and start the engine. Tine goes to the bow, ready to drop anchor. I steer the boat right in-between the other anchored ships. The rain gushes down. Visibility is only ten meters, sometimes even less. We loose sight of the other boats. Even though we motor slowly, sometimes an anchored boat pops up through the curtain of rain, out of no-where it seems, when it is almost too late to avoid a collision. The wind is strong and gusty, shifting often 90 degrees. A sailboat, and certainly one like ours with a short keel, and very beamy – flat wide bottomed – gets easily pushed around by the wind. Once the boat starts turning with the wind, there is no way to stop the momentum. Then you just HAVE to turn.. It makes it difficult to maneuver between anchored boats, all swinging on their anchor chains, in the stormy wind… But we do well, find a proper spot, and drop the anchor in one go. Phew!

It storms and rains the whole night, but the next morning is bright and sunny, revealing the small paradise we are anchored in. Hardly any clouds left. The sea is clear light green-blue, several fishing terns are gliding high up in the sky, without moving their wings. A soft breeze moves through the leaves of the palm trees bordering the beech of bright white sand. Paradise once more.

In the afternoon, while having brunch on the deck of the boat, we spot two young local fishermen in the water, dragging what seems to be a white surf board. I get a bit suspicious as it does not look like they are having fun, rowing wildly with their arms, barely keeping their head above water. Through the binoculars I can see a black thing on their surf board. Maybe a large plastic bag or a net. As a rain squall comes closer, they seem the more anxious to get ashore. It is all a bit weird: what are they doing in a channel between two islands, on a surfboard? I take our dinghy, and motor to them, only to find that there is no surfboard, but they were dragging a small white wooden boat filled to the rim with water. The black thing I saw earlier is an outboard engine they had unscrewed and put inside the boat. “Mista, you help us, mista?”, they ask. I throw them a rope and tow them ashore. They drag their boat onto the beach, crawl onto the sand, and lay on their back, exhausted. Barely waving their hands to thank me.

When I get back to our sail boat, Hannah, our youngest, stands on the bow of our ship, shouting and dancing “My dad is a superhero! Superdad in action! My dad can do anything!..” Lana gives me a hug. “Dad, I am proud of you. The people on the other boats were just watching, but you DID something… Did you those guys give you anything to thank you?” I tell them when we do good to others, somewhere we will be rewarded by something good ourselves..
In the afternoon, when we scuba dive, and find some astonishingly beautiful cone shelves, Lana says “You see, we are rewarded now. We did something good, and now we are rewarded with these beautiful shelves. We will take them with us, and put flowers in them. As a reminder to do good to others!”.

I guess my kids learned a lesson that day.

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